“You want milk, baby?”
“Mih,” she says, continuing to sign. I pull her into my lap and pull down my shirt. She leans in, and her little body relaxes into mine.
It was hard in the beginning. Like, really, really hard. I was bleeding and raw. Baby girl was falling asleep during feedings and not eating enough. I cried. A lot. She screamed with hunger. I felt like a failure, but I was determined to figure out how to make breastfeeding work for us.
Fortunately, I didn’t have to figure it out on my own. There was lovely Nurse J, who came to our home, weighed baby girl, and suggested pumping to increase my supply and give my nipples a break from the damage being done by baby girl’s tongue and lip ties. There were the lactation consultants at two different breastfeeding clinics and the doctors who did the snipping. And there were women here, reading this blog, who had been through similar experiences. They, along with one of the doctors, assured me it was okay to stop if I needed to, that it wouldn’t make me any less of a mother. As much as I appreciated those words, I couldn’t give up. Baby girl and I pushed through and finally, after three long months of pain and worry, we were discharged from the breastfeeding clinic.
And we haven’t looked back. I was fully healed. Baby girl was thriving. We were both enjoying nursing. And there were so many times I was grateful to have that tool at my disposal. Like takeoff and landings throughout our first (and second) international plane trip as a family of three. Or in the middle of the night when she was waking up every hour, screaming in pain from acid reflux. Or when we’d been out and about longer than I’d planned and she needed a quick snack.
She still nurses several times a day and at least twice at night, and I have no plans to stop anytime soon. I look forward to those quiet moments with my daughter. She stares intently at my face, sometimes not eating at all, just hanging out on my breast. We play games together. We snuggle at night before I put her back in the crib, content and sleepy.
It’s unlikely we’ll try for another baby while little miss is still nursing, but it’s not something I want to rush. One day–too soon–she will decide she’s had enough. I may or may not be ready when that day comes, but I will do my best to follow her lead. And until then, I will cuddle and snuggle and nourish the only child I have.